10 May 2020: 126 years of the Aquincum Museum

On the 126th anniversary of its opening, we look back at the birth of the Aquincum Museum.

What happened on 10 May 1894?

In the year that Lajos Kossuth died in Turin, that the patent for the first motion picture film was issued, that the Manchester Ship Canal opened, that P. Coubertin founded the Olympic Committee for the re-establishment of the Olympic Games, that the Tower Bridge in London was opened, that the Dreyfus affair began, that Gavrilo Princip was born, that in Budapest the New York Palace and the National Salon opened, that István Szőnyi, Vilmos Aba Novák, Tibor Déry, Gyula Derkovits, Pál C. Molnár and André Kertész were born and Ede Paulay and János Xantus died… well, in that year, 1894, on 10 May the Aquincum Museum opened its doors to the public.

Budapest című napilap címlapja (1894. augusztus 11.)

The front page of the Hungarian daily “Budapest” (11 August 1894)

The history:

In 1878 the Budapest Council issued a decree for the protection of the ruins still visible on the surface in Óbuda. In 1879 a special committee determined, in which areas archaeological excavations could begin. In 1880 systematic excavations were launched in Aquincum: first on the so-called Csigadomb (the site of the Civil Town’s amphitheatre), then in the so-called Papföld (the middle of the Aquincum Civil Town).

The Aquincum remains piqued the interests of the scientific world and also became popular with both the general public and the royal family. Flóris Rómer presented the invaluable finds from the area in his 1866 Archaeological Guide. As a result, the Aquincum finds came to be exhibited abroad for the first time. Thanks to the growing interest in academic circles, in 1876 participants of the 8th International Congress of Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology visited the ruins of Aquincum.

Finds from Óbuda were initially taken to the Hungarian National Museum. The most significant finds were presented at the Budapest pavilion during the 1885 National Fair. Thanks to their success, it was decided that the Aquincum finds should be presented on-site, at the so-called Krempl Mill.

Előterjesztés a Fővárosi Múzeum alpítására

The motion for establishing the Municipal Museum of Budapest 

In 1887 the Budapest Council approved the motion of deputy-mayor Károly Gerlóczy for the establishment of the museum. And so, on 10 May 1894 the Aquincum Museum opened, with the exhibition building – built by Gyula Orczy in the style of an ancient temple – at its heart.

A múzeum átadása

 The opening of the museum

Széchenyi 2020
Széchenyi 2020